Commentary on Paul’s Letters to the Corinthian Church
ARC Guide Level 1
Ideal for those getting acquainted with our thought process at Ammi Ruhama Community.
1 Corinthians 4:1-5
4 This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful. 3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. 4 For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. 5 Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.1 Corinthians 4:1-5 English Standard Version
A Steward Must be Found Faithful
A Steward is a manager put in place to take care of another’s property. Paul refers to himself, Peter, Apollos and any other mature believers as servants who have been given the responsibility of dispensing God’s mysteries to the people of God. The requirement that the one who stewards God’s mysteries should be faithful has often been taken to mean that they must hold to approved doctrine and theology. This preaches, but it’s not consistent with Paul’s message to the Corinthians. Leading up to his point, we have been reading from Paul about the indistinguishability of the people of God from one another and how they have all been toiling on God’s farm, sowing His seeds, building His house and so the faithful Steward of God’s mysteries is the one who is faithful to their master and acknowledges in word and deed that the mysteries do not originate in them, but that they have a given insight into God’s mysteries which include instructions for how His table and house are to be run. The faithful manager obeys their master when He tells them to go out and invite all of His friends to dine with him, and when his so-called friends give their excuses, they do not stop obeying when He tells them to go into the highways and byways to invite the stranger to dine with Him. It is a command from God whose mysteries have been entrusted to them and so it is nothing for them to invite people they don’t normally mix with into their master’s house to dine with Him.
Paul’s point at the start of chapter four is that since God is their master and each one of them has been given an assignment and that one of those assignments is to be a steward of the mysteries of God and to communicate them to the people of God, that it would best for the children and other servants of the household to not pronounce judgement over God’s chosen stewards and to wait for God to judge how faithful the Steward was in their life. For a modern audience, this sounds like a command to not speak truth to power, and a recipe for disaster. But keep in mind that the Steward is the keeper of the mysteries of God. They have been given insight into the mind of God through the Spirit. It is not their job to organise the people of God in the way that seems best, or most effective to them: it is their job to communicate from God what the people of God ought to look like! And so, the people that Paul has put into place are those same people who have demonstrated that the Spirit of God is in them and actively interpreting the mysteries of God to them. They are the ones who are faithful and not confused about whose house or table they are inviting guests to and so they are the people least likely to abuse the rights of the people of God who have received mercy. Chloe, the steward of God’s mysteries in Corinth, did the right thing when she saw division based on the singling out of one steward over another to claim as the, ‘right,’ one. Paul says that a good steward is a faithful steward who does not claim any mystery as originating with them, but that they are servants along with their brothers and sisters who have also been entrusted with the mysteries of God.